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National Science Foundation
A New and Better Way
Fall Predicts Winter
New Seasonal Forecast Model
model accuracy demonstrated
Classroom Resources
Germantown, MD: snowstorm. Click for larger image.

A snowstorm hit hard in Germantown, Md. in winter 2003. Click here for more information.

Credit: NOAA/NWS Historic Collection

Fall Predicts Winter
Insert info. Click for larger image.
A snowstorm buries cars in Baltimore, Maryland.

Credit: Bill Swartwout; www.SouthBaltimore.com

NSF grantees are taking winter weather forecasting beyond El Niño by investigating the relationship between Siberian snow cover in fall months, and Northern Hemisphere climate variability during the winter. The NSF-funded researchers' forecast model has achieved on-target forecasts for major cities in the industrialized countries.

"Weather affects peoples' lives and the global economy on a daily basis," says Anjuli Bamzai, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. "Improving our ability to predict cold weather and heavy snow has obvious benefits. These investigators' real-time forecasts offer the possibility of improving our ability to anticipate such important events."

Forecast Temperature Anomaly Dec-Jan-Feb 2018
The 2017-18 winter forecast shows below normal temperatures for the northern and eastern U.S., with above normal temperatures in the southwestern and southcentral U.S. The winter precipitation forecast shows above normal precipitation across the northern U.S. and below normal precipitation across the southern U.S. The combination of cold and wet could result in an above normal snow season for parts of the northern U.S., including the large population centers of the northeastern U.S.

The predictors that go into the forecast include El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), October Eurasian snow cover extent, Arctic sea ice concentration, and an index that measures high latitude blocking. October Eurasian snow cover extent was above normal, Arctic sea ice extent is below normal, and there has been active blocking at high latitudes this fall. All indicators favor a cold winter in the eastern U.S. La Niña has also arrived, which favors a cold winter in the northwestern U.S. These indicators suggest that the polar vortex will break down later this winter, potentially unleashing an extended period of severe winter weather. Forecast date: November 16, 2017.

Credit: Judah Cohen
Predicting Seasonal Weather A Special Report
Forecasted Temperature Anomaly. Click for larger image. Observed Temperature Anomaly. Click for larger image.